Losing is part of life. We’d may as well get used to that. There are many ways we lose. We lose things. At least we can’t find them when we need them. If we could recover the hours we have wasted looking for something we have misplaced, it would be years, not hours. for some of us, decades!
We lose battles. It could be as simple as losing a ball game, or as big as losing a house. Or a job or a business or a dream. Winning is better than losing. That’s why my Denver Broncos are making a quarterback change. But losses aren’t without value. We learn more from our losses than from our victories.
We lose our physical ability. Even Peyton Manning. Things we could do easily when we were young become difficult and eventually impossible. It happens to all of us sooner or later, but it happens to some much sooner than seems fair.
One of my Christmas gifts was a collection of sports documentaries produced by ESPN to celebrate their 30th anniversary. One of them told a story from back in 1980 that was new to me. Now I will never forget it. An 18-year-old Canadian named Terry Fox (1958-1981) lost a leg to cancer. In the hospital where he received chemotherapy. it bothered him terribly to see children suffering and dying from cancer. It was so wrong. He was determined to do something about it. But what could he do with one leg? He could run across Canada. Yes, run. He would average a marathon a day (26 miles) and he would cover the 5,000 miles in about 6 months. In the process he would raise money for cancer research.
I run a lot. I used to run more. Back in my crazy days when I was running all the time, the most miles I ever logged in a 6 month period was 1,921. That’s 10.5 miles a day. Terry Fox, with an artificial leg, was going to average two-and-a-half times that.
It’s a thrilling story. Terry started in Newfoundland, virtually unknown. By the time he got to Ottawa, he was a national celebrity. He was over two-thirds of the way to his goal when he began experiencing chest pains. His cancer had spread to his lungs. After 143 days of running and 3,339 miles, his run had to end. His life ended less than a year later, just short of his 23rd birthday. But the money for his cause kept pouring in. To date, over $500 million dollars has been raised in Terry Fox’s name to help in the fight against cancer.
After a lifetime of losing things and losing battles and losing physical abilities and losing loved ones, we eventually lose our own lives. That sentence sounds terribly depressing! This is the season when we ponder these losses that are an inescapable part of life. Jesus was certainly not immune. The story of his short life and excruciating death is really quite depressing. But in Jesus, the story of his life does not end with his death. In Jesus, we see that the last word is not a loss, but a victory. The greatest of all victories. I’ll see you on Easter and we’ll talk about this and we’ll celebrate this!
In the meantime, I find myself thinking of that young Canadian who lost a leg and who chose not to feel sorry for himself. He chose instead to use his loss to help others. I cried as a I watched his story. But the tears didn’t leave me depressed. They left me inspired. If he could do what he did with one leg, I think I can use what God has given me, yes, even the trials and the tribulations, to help others and to glorify God.
Pastor John Watts